[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called on [press release] Pakistan Friday to end what has been an extreme increase in executions following the Peshwar school attack. Following the school attack and Pakistan’s subsequent lift of a death penalty moratorium [JURIST report], Amnesty reports that a “wave of executions” has resulted in the deaths of 19 people in the past month. Many of those on death row have been convicted of acts of terrorism under Pakistan’s 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act [text, PDF], which AI asserts is “so vague that almost all crimes fall under this definition.” AI’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director David Griffiths expressed his opinion that, “the [Pakistani] government should immediately reinstate a moratorium on executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty.” AI characterizes Pakistan’s use of the death penalty as especially heinous, as the organization believes that the country often hands down death sentences following unfair trials.
Earlier this month Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain [official website] signed into law [JURST report] anti-terrorism legislation that established military courts for the hearing of civilian terrorism related cases. Also this month the Pakistan Supreme Court overturned [JURIST report] the release of terrorist suspect Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Lakhvi, head of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who was the alleged organizer of the 2008 Mumbai attacks [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] that killed 165 individuals. In July Pakistan passed [JURIST report] a strict anti-terrorism bill that allowed police to use lethal force, to search buildings without a warrant and to detain suspects at secret facilities for up to 60 days without charge “on reasonable apprehension of commission of a scheduled offense.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] claimed [JURIST report] in September 2013 that the country’s anti-terrorism laws would be amended to more effectively combat modern threats.